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NBA Rumors: Kobe Not Returning This Season?

Kobe Bryant may not play again this season… Masai Ujiri discusses the Raptors’ stance on potential trades… All quiet on the trade front.

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Kobe Discusses Potential Return

•    When asked if he would return to the struggling Los Angeles Lakers this season, Bryant wouldn’t give a clear answer. Instead, he said, “[I’ll] stick to the script, just try to get better and then go from there. I just try to focus, keep my blinders on and just do what I have to do.”

•    Bryant has been frustrated with how long it’s taking him to recover: “It’s coming slowly. It’s coming slowly. I’m optimistic coming into out of the break that I will have some improvements once I get back to L.A. and do a couple follow-ups and then go from there. But it’s been a slow process.”

Via Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders

Given the circumstances, sitting out the rest of the year has seemed like the right thing for Bryant to do even dating back to when he was just dealing with the Achilles injury. The Lakers’ potential for this season was never that high, certainly not high enough for Bryant to rush back to the floor like he did. But, as one of the game’s fiercest competitors of all-time, he couldn’t be held back from doing everything he could to prove this injury was career threatening.

As far as the next couple of years are concerned, this is probably the best thing for Bryant. He has a lot of wear and tear on his legs. He needed some time off more than anything and he wasn’t going to take it unless he was forced to.

Interesting enough, Bryant also said this weekend that he didn’t want to have a lot of influence over what the Lakers do this offseason, once again voicing his trust in ownership and management.

Raptors Open for Business

Raptors president Masai Ujiri talked with few reporters… said he hasn’t closed the door… saying “we haven’t done anything yet.

Ujiri said he really has not heard from anyone lately, actually showed me his phone… a lot of calls from the family, not NBA GMs

Ujiri said that could change next week, but nothing going on now and was very genuine about where things stood.

Via Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders on Twitter

This lines up with Adrian Wojnarowski’s latest report that the Raptors were going to be holding onto Kyle Lowry for the playoffs, but questions about the Raptors’ intentions will linger until the deadline passes. Ujiri has had over half a season to evaluate and although the team is playing well this season, he’s not there to make one postseason appearance. He’s there to build a perennial contender and if a move that makes them better in the long-term comes along, we could see the Raptors make some changes despite their current success.

Quiet on the Trade Front

Trade talk at All-Star weekend has been “as slow as it’s been in a long time,” said one executive who has not received a single phone call. A lot of teams have made it known which players they are open to moving, but the problem is finding trade partners. Very few teams are willing to part with premium draft picks or take on future salary, which are the two key drivers for trades.

Via Ken Berger of CBS Sports

With just three days remaining until the NBA’s trade deadline, time is running out for things to pick back up. It is somewhat of the norm for talks to slow down during the weekend because the NBA loathes when teams take away from All-Star Weekend. The event is supposed to be the focus, not rumors and trade talk about personnel. However, even prior to the event things were slow on the trade front – especially when it came to big names or moves that could be considered major. The biggest piece of news that emerged from the weekend was that banished Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller isn’t interested in any reconciliation with the team.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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